Socialist Worker

Stoke festival is key chance to hit the BNP

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2148

The initial line-up for the Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) festival in Stoke on 30 May has been unveiled. The festival will be a key part of the campaign to stop the fascist British National Party (BNP) winning seats in the European parliament.

Major artists such as hip-hop act N-Dubz, indie band Reverend & The Makers and many others will come together to drive back the Nazis. The festival takes place at Stoke City’s football ground just days before the European elections on 4 June.

There is a groundswell of opposition across Britain to the real threat of the BNP making a breakthrough in the elections.

The festival brings the campaign right to the heart of one of the BNP’s target European seats. The BNP already has nine councillors in Stoke and they are hoping to win an MEP in the West Midlands constituency.

The festival is not just important for Stoke and the West Midlands. It is vital for everyone who is determined to beat the BNP.

Lee Billingham from LMHR explains, “The Stoke festival is part of a national campaign with two aims—to stop the BNP winning seats in the European elections, and to build a bigger and stronger mass anti-fascist movement for the longer term.

“The festival can have a big impact across the country. Bringing people to the event can help to build the anti-fascist movement in your area.

“Lots of people who brought groups to the 100,000-strong London carnival against the Nazis last year have said that those who came along are still involved in organising against the BNP.”

The festival is a good way to reach out and involve new people in the anti-fascist movement.

Campaigners plan to make sure that everyone who comes to it is then asked to get involved in activities to counter the BNP in the five days to the elections.

The festival has broad backing. It is co-organised with Stoke City Football Club and Stoke City Council, and backed by the anti-racist football campaign Kick It Out.

The Independent newspaper is a media partner for the event. It is planning to run regular publicity in the build-up to the festival.

Boxer Amir Khan has also backed the festival. He says, “I am proud to be a British Muslim, I was born and bred in this country and was proud to represent my country in the Olympic Games.

“Racism divides communities and we should all stand up and oppose this type of behaviour. The LMHR festival will be a brilliant event which will see people from various diverse backgrounds celebrate unity and togetherness while listening to some great music. It is an event and a cause I totally support.”

Lee from LMHR says, “Activists on the ground have to take advantage of the breadth of support to build the biggest possible event.

“That means that people should look on our website for transport. If there isn’t any from your area, get organised and put on a coach. Send the details in to us so we can put them up on the website.

“The Unite, CWU, FBU, PCS, NUT and NASUWT unions are all supporting the event so there are lots of groups to approach to get help putting on transport and publicising the event.”

Many trade unions are supporting the event by block booking tickets to sell on to their members or by putting on transport to help get people to the festival.

“We got a brilliant response at the recent NUT and NASUWT teaching unions’ national conferences,” Lee reports.

“Lots of delegates to the NUT conference pointed out that now their union has a political fund, activists should be using it to apply for funds to campaign against the BNP.

“One NUT delegate from Weston-Super-Mare said she is getting her association to subsidise 50 tickets and a coach to Stoke for local teachers and young people, as well as paying for anti-BNP adverts in newspapers and on billboards in the town.

“This is an example every teacher could follow.”

The festival is one part of a busy diary of anti-fascist events. Because the European constituencies are so large, creating a big splash to get the message out to the maximum numbers of people is crucial.

Unite Against Fascism groups across the country are organising mass leafleting and holding national and local days of action in the run up to 4 June.

Many national and local trade unions are ordering thousands of leaflets to distribute to their members.

Everyone can play some part in driving back the BNP.

And the Stoke festival is a key opportunity to get that message across to a mass audience.

To get involved phone LMHR on

020 7801 2781. To get involved in the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) campaign phone

020 7801 2782 or go to » www.uaf.org.uk


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